Another Gospel- A Hike to Galatia

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel ~

Did you receive the Spirit – Beginning with the Spirit – Gives you His Spirit – Promise of the Spirit – God sent the Spirit – the Spirit who calls – Power of the Spirit – Await through the Spirit – Live by the Spirit – Contrary to the Spirit – Fruit of the Spirit – Keep Step with the Spirit – Sow to please the Spirit

That is a whole lot of spiriting going on…or not

What you just read are the references to the holy spirit that the Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatians. If you are familiar with the book of Galatians then you know its message is direct and delivered with harnessed aggravation.

So why?  What were those Galatians up to that motivated him to write such an emphatic letter?

To understand this is to understand the Galatians and what was going on in Galatia at the time.  So put on your walking shoes and grab the backpack, we’re going on a hike.

Destination Galatia

Galatia, now modern day Turkey, was a Roman province in central Asia Minor which had been settled by the Celtic immigrants from Gaul in the 270s BC .

The terrain of Galatia was diverse.  It ranged from plateaus to mountains, with the Black Sea to the north and the Mediterranean Sea to the South.  Most of the countryside was only suitable for grazing animals with some farming done in the valleys, but even there the soil was poor and rocky.

Though the land was not particularly inviting for agriculture the location of Galatia was ideal due to the fact that it was on the main East-West trade route which was home to craftsmen,

tradesmen, shepherds, farmers, andinnkeepers.

The political and authoritative power of Galatia fell under the control of Rome and the religion most practiced was a form of Romano-Celtic polytheism.

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The Galatians of Paul’s day had retained many of their Gaulish customs and spoke the Celtic language of their ancestors.  They were considered a tamed people but their history records that at one time they were greatly feared.  They were great warriors andrelentlessplunderers that wreakedhavoc in the land.  They were Barbarians.

If you’re up to a little “off-road” hiking, then I’ve provided a historical time-line pertaining to the Galatians. It has some very interesting facts about how they settled into the land and how they changed from Barbarians to a peaceful people.  If you would rather stay on the main road, then scroll down to the year 45-47 AD.

Galatian Timeline:

270s BC

The Gauls had been invited by Nicomedes I of  Bithynia to come over into Anatolia to serve as warriors and mercenaries.  Once they arrived the Gauls became the preeminent power in the region and made themselves a fearsome name by campaigning and raiding their surrounding neighbors. The only relief from their harassment was to pay a tribute which even the Syrian kings did not refuse to pay.

Between 235 and 225 BC

King Attalus of Pergamum was able to hold the Gauls in check, inflicting several defeats on them, but conceding their right to occupy Galatia. Though the Gauls were weakened, they still continued to be a constant source of aggravation.

197 BC

Galatia came into contact with the Roman Empire during the Syrian War against Antiochus.  King Attalus in Pergamum died and raids west of Asia Minor began again. The Gauls soon found themselves as mercenary allies of the Syrian King.

189 BC

Rome, however, allied to Pergamum was forced to finally take matters into their own hands, launching an expedition under Manlius Vulso. His invasion, and the war against Antiochus was greatly successful and Roman influence spread deeply into the east keeping the Gauls under check.

71-72 BC

During the Roman civil war the Celts (Gauls) led by clan chief, Deiotarus, proved to be formidable allies to Gnaeus Pompeius (Pompey) Magnus which aided Pompey towards the victory of the fall of the Roman republic.

64 BC

For Deiotarus support in driving the invading troops of Mithradates VI of Pontus from Phrygia,  Pompey, along with the Roman Senate,  rewarded him with the title of king of Galatia and granted him Lesser Armenia and most of Galatia.  King Deiotarus was the first of only three kings to rule Galatia.

25 BC

When the third and last Galatian king, Amyntas, died Caesar Augustus formally incorporated Galatia into an official Roman province where they were peacefully absorbed.  From that point on, Galatia remained a province of Rome with little economic exploitation or political dissent of any kind. The Galatians remained loyal to the empire throughout its remaining history.

45-47 AD

The Galatians of Paul’s day were now a mixed race of Celts and Greeks but still maintained Gaulish features in their culture and language.  And as we’ve read, their political and authoritative power was Roman rule.  However, during Paul’s first visit to Galatia he shared the goods news and hope in Christ with the Galatians and many converted from polytheism to Christianity.

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel….which is no gospel at all.” Galatians 1:6-7.

53-56 AD

At this point in time the Galatians had been well established in the Christian faith for close to 8-12 years. They were known as one of  the early christian church’s and was flourishing.  However, another “gospel” had oozed into the land and the Galatians were falling victim to its teaching.

So what was this teaching, this other gospel? You may find the answer interesting but more surprisingly it still exist and continues to infiltrate its dismantling teaching to this day.

Other Gospel

Bible scholars refer to this other gospel as a mixture of Judaism (Law) and Christianity (Grace).  The Judaizing missionaries contended that Christianity could only work within the sphere of the Mosaic law.  That faith in Christ, involving the free gifts of the Holy Spirit, was not sufficient.  Obedience to the Mosaic law which required observing festal days, the Sabbath,  and circumcision was stressed.  To reinforce their gospel agenda they even went to the point of slandering Paul by stating that he himself was preaching circumcision.

Unfortunately for the Galatians this legalistic perversion cast doubt upon Paul’s sincerity in his teaching that the grace of God was free to all men through the death of Christ and that it was grace that saved and not works.  This doubt became a contamination and defection among the converts began.

As we know the Apostle Paul received news of what was occurring in Galatia which immediately spurred him to write his letter to the Galatians.  He defended his stand on the gospel of grace and vindicated Christianity on the sole basis of man’s acceptance of Christ.  Men are justified by the finished work of the Redeemer and in nothing else. No form, no work, no ceremonies. In the end Paul was successful in reestablishing the truth in the church of Galatia where they became a christian stronghold that flourished.

Legalism, the other gospel, still thrives.  It oozes, contaminates and perverts the truth and purity of grace.  It manifest in the mindset of grace + works.  But it also manifest in less obvious forms such as;

  • His hair is too long to serve as a deacon
  • She shouldn’t wear jeans to church
  • He shouldn’t wear a tee-shirt and shorts to church
  • A christian should go to church every Sunday
  • A christian only should see “G” rated movies
  • A christian shouldn’t dance or play cards
  • A christian woman shouldn’t wear makeup or only very little
  • Her shoes are not proper to wear to church
  • His shirt tail should be tucked in when going to church

The list could go on and on.  All those things mentioned are a form of legalism.  None of them matter to Grace.

Be careful the other gospel is still contaminating and if we are not proactive to recognize it we may cause others to suffer as the Galatians did.

As our hike concludes it is only fitting to return where we started, focused on the Holy Spirit, the exterminator of legalism.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel.

Did you receive the Spirit – Beginning with the Spirit – Gives you His Spirit – Promise of the Spirit – God sent the Spirit – the Spirit who calls – Power of the Spirit – Await through the Spirit – Live by the Spirit – Contrary to the Spirit – Fruit of the Spirit – Keep Step with the Spirit – Sow to please the Spirit. 

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4 thoughts on “Another Gospel- A Hike to Galatia

  1. Galatians 1:6-9 is a passage I use to counter the Book of Mormon, because it is, they say, “another gospel of Jesus Christ given by an angel”.

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    • Exclusitivity and rules taught in any form or religion pertaining to salvation through Christ is contrary to the gospel of Grace. To teach such or to believe such conveys that Christ’s crucifixion was not enough…Grace then has no merit.

      Thanks Mark for your comment and adding to our hike. As I’ve said before, paths are enriched by others and I thank you for leaving your footprints.

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  2. Good points Donna. I suppose we too often use externals to try to determine if others (and is it really our business to determine this?) are allowing the holy spirit in their hearts as reflected by their actions. For our actions do reflect our heart as Christ pointed out and his grace gives us that new heart through the holy spirit, doesn’t it?

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    • I agree that through Christ and the working of the Holy Spirit that we receive a new heart (a renewed mind) and that our actions will fall in sync with Christ. Those actions fall under the sole jurisdiction of the Holy Spirit. Grace is totally liberating, and totaling accepting and if we are living under Grace, then why are we focusing on the externals of others? When we do, we are not reflecting the work of the Holy Spirit in our own lives and are in danger of being judgmental and legalistic – both of which perverts the gospel of grace.

      As always, it is great to hear from you and thanks for posting your comment, I love the interaction. The last two writings (they were posted in chronological order) that Paul gave us in Galatians pertaining to the Spirit was, “keep step with the spirit, sow to please the spirit.” Extending grace will always do both. 🙂

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Path walking is always enriched when joined by others. Won't you leave your footprints along the way?

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